The Supreme Court has limits on length of briefs, and so too do mailing lists. Who hasn’t received an overly long message from a mailing list which contains the full text of the preceding message and the one before that, including the list’s top and bottom banners, or the entirety of the list’s digest? And the only new content inscribed by the sender is simply “unsubscribe” or “me, too”? List subscribers – and sadly, lawyers are among the worst offenders – simply are often too careless to snip extraneous matter from posts like this.
Beyond the aggravating annoyance of message bloat exists a security concern: embedded binary files harbor viruses.
List owners can control the length of messages by setting size limitations. The e-mail list management software LISTSERV® offers up just such a feature in Sizelim, which will cause the mailing list to automatically reject all messages which exceed a predefined number of lines or number of kilobytes or megabytes, including all Internet headers. A typical configuration might read Sizelim= 500 or Sizelim= 100K. Those configurations would work to reject all messages which contain more than 500 lines or 100Kb. Other software version may simply truncate overly long messages.
Let’s say you’ve just written the definitive response to a post on a law-related mailing list, laboring over more detail than the average Supreme Court opinion or law review article, only to have your message rejected for length. What’s the solution?
- Excise the text of the message to which you’re responding.
- Trim the fat from your own response.
- Split up your message into Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3, posting each as separate messages.
- Synopsize your response, inviting interested subscribers to contact you off-list for the whole bloody version.
- Park your response on an online document repository such as MyDocsOnline,
- http://www.mydocsonline.com/, invited those who’re interested to peruse it at their leisure and providing them with the access to do so.
- Upload it to your own website, pointing the list to the URL.
On the other hand, if it’s really that important, perhaps your words should be carefully bound in leather and held for posterity at the Library of Congress.